Swede faces charges for child rape 24 years ago after ‘family DNA search’

Prosecutors have requested seven years' jail time for a man suspected of raping an eight-year-old in 1995, after a law change in how police can use DNA databases linked him to the crime scene.

Swede faces charges for child rape 24 years ago after 'family DNA search'
Prosecutor Thomas Ahlstrand speaking to a reporter after the trial. Photo: Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT

The eight-year-old girl had been cycling home from school when she was assaulted and raped by a man in a forest in Billdal, Gothenburg, in September 1995.

It was only earlier this year, 24 years after the crime took place, that the 58-year-old was detained on suspicion of the rape. This followed a so-called 'family search' in the police DNA register, linking him to DNA found on the girl's jumper at the time.

So-called 'family searches' in the police's DNA database were made possible after a law change that came into effect on January 1st this year. This means that DNA traces found at crime scenes can sometimes be used to track down close relatives of possible suspects, something police were previously unable to do.

Prosecutors requested that the man be sentenced to seven years in jail in the trial, which ended on Tuesday morning, and the ruling is expected on May 21st.

“The punishment for this type of crime is eight years, but then you need to do a deduction in relation to the time that has passed, and in previous cases it's been one year,” prosecutor Thomas Ahlstrand said to SVT Väst.

The man has denied the crime but was reticent during questioning and the trial itself.

In Sweden, the statute of limitations is 25 years for crimes on which a life sentence could be imposed.

READ ALSO: 'Sweden needs to do more to convict rapists': Amnesty report

Member comments

  1. Perhaps a note is in order here – unlike the USA, where DNA submitted by the user (eg genetic ancestry tests) or collected because of a criminal conviction, in Sweden, the DNA is collected at birth and you can’t opt out of it.

    Why didn’t TheLocal cover the law change? This is scary…

  2. Hej! No, that’s not quite right. You’re talking about the healthcare’s so-called PKU biobank, which keeps blood samples collected at birth (although you can ask to have your sample destroyed or anonymized) and which the police are generally not allowed to use.

    The DNA register referred to in this article is the police’s own DNA register, which is a DNA database of people who have been convicted of crimes for which the punishment was more serious than a fine. The law change applies to this register, not the PKU biobank.

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Swedish court clears former Swedbank CEO of fraud charges

Birgitte Bonnesen, a former CEO of Swedish bank Swedbank, has been acquitted of charges of fraud and sharing insider information.

Swedish court clears former Swedbank CEO of fraud charges

The ruling from the Stockholm District Court comes four years after the eruption of a money laundering scandal implicating the bank.

In 2019, Swedish public service broadcaster SVT alleged that at least 40 billion kronor (equivalent at the time to $4.4 billion) of suspicious and high-risk transactions had been channelled to Baltic countries, notably Estonia, from Swedbank accounts.

The revelations, which saw the bank’s share price crumble, rendered Bonnesen’s position untenable and she was fired.

Sweden’s financial regulator the following year fined the bank some 360 million euros and warned it to follow anti-money laundering laws.

Prosecutors later charged Bonnesen, accusing her of “intentionally or by aggravated negligence” providing false or misleading information about the steps the bank had taken to prevent and detect suspected money laundering.

Bonnesen, who risked two years in prison, denied all of the charges against her.

The court said that while some of the statements the former CEO made to media outlets had been “unclear and incomplete”, they did not amount to fraud.

“For criminal liability, it is not enough for someone to make a false statement or omit key information,” judge Malou Lindblom said, adding that any statement needed to be sufficient to influence recipients “in a certain direction”.

Bonnesen was also cleared of charges of revealing insider information by informing the bank’s main owners that the investigative documentary was coming.

The court said the former CEO had only revealed what she believed the documentary would cover, which was deemed too “imprecise” to be considered insider information.